University College Dublin has become the fourth university to be awarded University of Sanctuary status in Ireland by Places of Sanctuary Ireland.
UCD will offer a fee waiver to all refugees, asylum seekers, those with leave to remain and those under subsidiary protection, who apply and are successful in being accepted to UCD, through the usual routes but cannot afford the fees.
The fee waiver proposal was put forward by the UCD Refugee Working Group and it was accepted last year by University management. The UCD Refugee Working Group is chaired by Professor Colin Scott, Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Principal of UCD Colleges of Social Sciences and Law, and Professor Grace Mulcahy, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and UCD Conway Institute.
The award comes following the recognition of initiatives from staff and students to welcome refugees and asylum seekers to UCD, such as the work done by the UCD Refugee Working Group and the establishment of the national student campaign, Failte|Welcome Refugees by UCD students in 2016.
Dr Veronica Crosbie,member of refugee and asylum seeker advocacy group, Places of Sanctuary Ireland, presented the University of Sanctuary certificate to UCD President Professor Andrew J Deeks at a ceremony in the UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business on Monday 6th March. President Andrew J Deeks stated that UCD “recognises the very important contribution that we can make by harnessing the human resources, skills and energy of displaced staff and students and deliver benefit to both home and host nations by improving their access to work and study within higher education.”
Speakers at the ceremony included Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council who both spoke of the importance of Higher Education Institutes stepping up and allowing refugees and asylum seekers receive third level education, which in turn will allow them to flourish as individuals.
Ola Akintola is a Stage 1 Computer Science student in UCD, currently seeking asylum in Ireland. Ola said, "“When I got the text from the CAO saying I got a place at UCD to study Computer Science that was an incredible experience. It’s been an incredible opportunity for asylum seekers knowing that you can actually access third-level education. It will transform the lives of so many asylum seekers in Ireland.
Ola stated he wished to give back to Irish society and is currently volunteering to do so. “From the beginning, I have always wanted to give back to Irish society and now with my Computer Science degree I help out with CoderDojo, a computer coding club for kids – this is my own little way of saying thank you to the Irish state” he said.
UCD joins DCU, UL and UCC as the fourth University of Sanctuary in Ireland.